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For all of us in the Northern hemisphere, summer is in full swing. While summer is that time of the year when many of us are looking to get some well-deserved rest, it’s also a great time for nonprofit fundraising. The warm weather lures many outside, seeking fun, activities, and connection to others. Therefore, summer easily lends itself to a multitude of outdoor fundraising activities.
With a little bit of planning, good marketing, and just a dash of creativity, you can bring in the much-needed funds for your nonprofit this summer!
Here are our top picks for 2022 nonprofit summer fundraisers:
1. Watermelon Eating Contest
Eating contests are fundraising staples. This year, opt for healthier and more hydrating options for your summer fundraiser! Watermelons are a good option but choose whichever fruit is affordable and available locally. Select a location and don’t forget to set a budget.
Think about the number of participants and spectators. Check the price of watermelon or other fruit and other items you may need to purchase, such as decoration, trash bags, and more. This will help you determine the price of the ticket. Reduce costs by getting these items donated.
The registration process should be straightforward. Ensure that all the participants and spectators understand the rules before the competition starts. Have fun!
2. Home-Made Ice Cream Social
Did you know that National Ice Cream Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in July? Summer is indeed the best time of the year to celebrate this cooling treat loved by children and adults around the world. Keep it simple by organizing a park social for families from the city. Partner with a local business to donate ice cream in exchange for brand visibility. Charge a small participation fee. Come up with several easy and fun summer activities to keep the kids entertained.
During summer, the kids are out of school for several months, so events like this will appeal to many parents looking for entertaining and enriching activities. To take it up a notch, obtain some homemade ice cream. You can have the participants vote for the best ice cream!
Pro tip: Ensure there are options for those looking for dairy-free treats!
3. Fruit Fiesta
‘Tis the season of delicious and hydrating fruit! This summer, organize a big get-together and pair it with a fruit tasting. Depending on what you think your audience will respond better to, you can either go for an all-local event, working with local farmers to source farm-to-table fruit that your community will be able to sample and purchase or go exotic! In the second scenario, source exotic fruit (not commonly eaten or available in your local area) and attract participation in this way. Charge for participation.
Consider pairing this summer fundraiser with a summer field day. This way, participants can enjoy summer activities and then sample fruit as refreshments in between jumping, running, and skipping around.
June is the Great Outdoors Month in the United States, but organizing a hike or a walk-a-thon is a solid fundraising idea all throughout the summer. Choose a trail in your city or neighborhood and recruit reliable guides to guide them. Provide water station stops and set up a picnic/lunch at the end. Sell tickets to raise funds.
You can also turn this summer fundraising idea into a peer-to-peer fundraiser, leveraging the power of networks to raise more funds for your nonprofit.
5. Forest Treasure Hunt
Treasure hunts are fun for kids and adults alike! To organize a forest treasure hunt this summer, pay special attention to your treasure hunt design. Carefully craft the steps and components of the treasure hunt. For example, you might want to set up a kickoff ceremony at the starting point to explain the rules and hand out goody bags and t-shirts.
You can partner with local sponsors to host special stops or sponsor the event to raise even more funds.
Split the participants into teams and have them solve clues, find items, and answer questions in order to move forward on the treasure hunt. Choose a relevant theme, perhaps one that’s related to your nonprofit mission. For best results, provide refreshments and prizes! Set a time limit and have volunteers help keep everyone safe and on track. To raise funds, sell tickets online and in person.
6. Animal Watching
Bird watching might be the most popular animal-related activity, but there’s a lot more potential in the animal world! This summer fundraising idea can take various forms. If your nonprofit is an animal shelter or a sanctuary, you can hold an open day. Even if your organization isn’t an animal nonprofit, you can organize walks and excursions in nature to show and discuss the wildlife that can be found in your local environment. Gather donations in exchange for a guided walk or expedition to mountains, forests, or ponds.
Pro tip: Organize a nature-lovers quiz as part of this experience, beforehand or after! Offer a small prize to the winner.
7. Summer Concert
Allow between 3-12 months to organize a summer concert, depending on its size. When choosing a date, make sure it doesn’t clash with other major events. Promotion for a concert should start as early as possible. Make sure there’s a team working on organizing the project, especially if you’re planning to go big! The venue plays a key role, so find one that will appeal to your audience, ideally outdoors if possible. Base your ticket price on covering all costs and raising some funds for your cause. Sell food, drinks, and merchandise to raise additional funds.
Think about your audience. This will largely determine the type of performers you’re going to contact.
Pro tip: Like with any big event, it’s important to consider plan B! For example, if your summer concert is happening outdoors, what happens if it rains? What happens if a performer cancels?
8. Outdoor Exercise Class
June 21 is the International Day of Yoga, which makes it the perfect day to organize an outdoor yoga class fundraiser! This summer fundraiser is easy to organize. Pick an accessible and attractive public space, obtain the permit to use it (if needed) and then ask for donations in exchange for attendance. Ask a yoga teacher to lead a class for a good cause. Bonus points if the teacher already has a sizeable local audience. You can combine the class with a summer solstice celebration, perhaps with 108 salutes to the sun.
If you feel like your audience wouldn’t be interested in a yoga class, there are plenty of other options for outdoor exercise (standard workouts, HIIT workouts, pilates, and more)!
9. Arts & Crafts Afternoon
It’s as important for adults to carve out some time to get their creative juices flowing as it is for kids! Whatever your audience, this summer fundraiser can deliver – it’s almost endlessly customizable. From painting and making ceramics to cake decorating, wreath making, and crocheting – there are many options to choose from. Consider your audience and your resources and choose an activity that will be appealing to them. Host half-day or full-day workshops in exchange for donations to your fundraiser.
10. Summer Solstice Party
June 21 not only marks the first official day of summer, but it's also the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. The summer solstice is all about celebrating nature and honoring the sun, so an outdoor venue makes the most sense.
Depending on the size of the party and the resources you have available, this outdoor space might be a rooftop or a clearing in a forest. You can go as big or as small as you want! The décor is an important part of any event, but especially of something like a solstice party. Maybe you want to place lots of lights around or have everyone wear a flower crown.
Curate a fun playlist or hire a DJ and serve solstice-inspired food. How about rustic pizza with heirloom tomatoes or a seasonal berry pudding? The options are endless when it comes to this fundraiser. Crafts, drinks-making workshop, sun gazing... You can organize an elegant soiree or a sun salutations yoga event.
Know thy audience and adjust accordingly. Raise funds through ticket sales. Make sure you can make a profit after covering all the event organization costs!
11. Beach Painting
Wine’n’paint events have been popular for a while. This summer, organize a wine’n’paint event – but with a twist! Organize the class at the local beach and have the participants paint the sunset. If you don’t have a beach, go on a hill or a river. With this summer fundraiser, good weather is particularly important so make sure the day will be rain-free (and ideally cloud-free)!
Instead of wine, you can also serve mocktails, tea, or fruit juices (and these should be an option even if you do choose to serve wine).
Sell tickets to raise funds.
12. Gardening Class
Classes can be great fundraisers! And what better time than spring and summer to organize a gardening class! Gardening has many therapeutic benefits. Nowadays, the benefits of social and therapeutic horticulture are praised so much so that gardening is even prescribed by some therapists.
It’s therapeutic, it’s fun, it’s relaxing, it provides an opportunity to spend time outdoors, to connect to others and nature – what’s not to love?
You can organize a class where you teach essential gardening skills such as planting, propagating, watering, trimming, and more. Make sure you adjust the level of information to your audience's level of knowledge and interests. You might want to keep it basic or otherwise venture out into plant nutrition, soil composition, pesticides, and more. Set a price for the class that covers the costs of your materials and includes a donation to your nonprofit. If you don’t have access to gardening expertise on your team, see if you can collaborate with someone who would volunteer their time for a good cause.
Pro tip: If you’re working with limited resources and cannot organize a gardening class, consider selling bulbs to your audience.
13. Community Clean Up
Community clean-ups bring the community together, get everyone active and moving, and create a better living environment for all. When organizing a community clean-up, make sure to choose the area of focus that makes sense for your community – such as a trash collection initiative, a beach cleanup, or a river cleanup. Outline all the work that needs to be done, the route, the number of volunteers needed, and the list of supplies you’re going to need. Obtain any permits and licenses (if applicable).
The more participants you’ll have, the more grounds you’ll be able to cover. This is why early promotion is key! Tell the community about your event by creating and distributing flyers, promoting on social media, and asking other organizations to help spread the word. Make a clear plan. Everyone should know exactly what they will be doing!
To raise funds, get supplies (trash bags, gloves, rakes, shovels) donated. Don’t forget to make a plan for how are you going to dispose of what you collect.
You can include suggested donations on your flyers or as part of your social media outreach. You can also ask people to pledge to donate a certain amount based on how much trash is picked up. Or you turn it into a peer-to-peer fundraiser where participants pledge to collect a certain amount of trash and ask their network for donations.
14. Father’s Day Donation Drive
Father's Day is a special time of year when many in the world celebrate and show their appreciation for the fathers and father figures in their lives. This fundraiser is a great way to work with online fundraising. Create a dedicated online donation page where your audience can give in honor of their father/father figure as a gift for Father’s Day.
Here are some holidays/days you can celebrate and mark in summer:
1. National Leave the Office Early Day (June 2)
2. World Environmental Day (June 5)
3. Great Outdoors Month (June)
4. Native American Citizenship Day (June 15)
5. Father’s Day (the Third Sunday in June)
6. Fourth of July (July 4)
7. International Non-Binary People’s Day (July 14)
8. International Friendship Day (July 30)
9. Women’s Equality Day (August 26)
Get Fundraising This Summer…
Fundraising doesn’t have to be tiring and tedious! Summer is the ideal time to put the “fun” back into fundraising. While it’s true that most fundraising happens at the end of the year, the rest of the year should not be ignored if you want your nonprofit to be financially sustainable.
To help you get the most from these summer fundraiser ideas, be sure to host your campaign on GiveForms.
GiveForms lets you create a seamless donation experience for your donors, starting off the donor relationship on the right foot. Use GiveForms to embed a donation form on your website, allowing visitors to donate using a credit card, PayPal, Google Pay, or bank transfers. With a focus on intuitive, human-centered design, our goal is to help you increase your online donations.